The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death is the first of the Snarkout Boys books by Daniel Pinkwater. It is a most wonderful thing.
The story follows the adventures of Winston Bongo (the inventor of snarking out) and his friend Walter Galt (the narrator). The boys are practitioners of the art of snarking out, i.e., sneaking out of their parent's house in the dark of night to attend the 24/7/52 showings of old and often cheesy movies at the Snark theater. The Snark is a magical place, where a dollar buys you entrance (or 50 cents, if you have the foresight to get a hold of a fake college ID) to the oddest collection of movies ever... collected. The Snark prides itself in being able to find nearly any film. They encourage their customers to request odd films, and will send you a free pass to see the film when they find it. They also don't mind if you heckle the actors on the screen, talk, eat, or smoke during the films.
Wondrous though this is, Winston and Walter are starting to realize that snarking out does not need to be limited to the Snark. Baconburg is an interesting city, and is perhaps doubly so in the wee hours of the night. Blueberry park, for instance, allows anyone to stand up and speak on any subject, and quite a few unusual subjects are spoken on at 2 o'clock in the morning. There are also vendors selling interesting food-like substances, and old neighborhoods with cobbled streets and flickering streetlight to explore.
And then... another snarker appears. Winston had believed that he had invented the sport of snarking, but this was based on his limited experience of the substandard students at Genghis Khan High School. It emerges that the neighboring George Armstrong Custer High School has also spawned one (and only one) student with enough imagination and sense of adventure to snark out: Rat. Rat is older, cooler, and tougher than Winston and Walter, and she is also a member of one of the oddest families in Baconburg. She is their gateway from an exciting but somewhat mundane world into the over-the-top strangeness of a Pinkwater novel. Her uncle, it turns out, is Flipping Hades Terwilliger, the mad scientist and famous avocado researcher. And he is just about to be kidnapped -- again.
Pinkwater writes in a simple, straightforward way that mimics the way a young adult might write, if they were a chatty and thoughtful writer. He includes a number of expository lumps that would perhaps be boring if they were not both amusing and interesting; he manages to keep them from interfering with the story, and they usually do a good job of developing Walter's character, the character of whoever he is talking about, and defining the world of the story. Just as his nonfiction essays collect stories of interesting people and places, The Avocado of Death gives us a concentrated exploration of a very interesting and diverse city, with a number of interesting people. And while Pinkwater cannot resist injecting his fantasy with some overly wacky happenings, this is one of his few books in which everything is just maybe plausible -- if you pick up on the clues.
This was one of my favorite books as a teenager, and it still is today. In many ways this is the perfect Pinkwater book, including both a rich picture of interesting characters and places (which if not real, could be real) and a lot of very silly happenings.
The Avocado of Death, as with so many Pinkwater books, is currently hard to find; however it has recently been republished in the collection 5 Novels, which also includes the books Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars, Slaves of Spiegel, The Last Guru; and Young Adult Novel.
There is, happily, a sequel to The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death, namely The Snarkout Boys and the Baconburg Horror. It is also a great and silly book.